The Struts: Everybody Wants... (Freesolo/Interscope)
I'll let you in on little bit of my past, I'm quite big professional wrestling fan, I have been since I was a kid and I still am now, yes I know that it's predetermined and such but it's entertainment some people do soaps and drama I do wrestling. Now what this has to do with music is that I have discovered quite a few bands through the monthly PPV's, weekly TV shows and yearly videogames that the wrestling companies have produced, most notably Black Stone Cherry and Shinedown (It also means I will have an unfortunate emotional reaction to Creed's My Sacrifice). UK rockers The Struts are yet another band I have discovered through my other hobby, their song Could Have Been Me was used as one of the themes for NXT's London supershow (along with Ace Of Spades, which served as it happened as a fitting tribute to Lemmy who is NXT boss HHH's musical hero).
The song drew my attention on the trailers for the event as sounded like if the The Darkness were trying to be The Stones rather than Thin Lizzy, it also reminded me very strongly of Foxy Shazam (on Dirty Sexy Money) a band I hold in high regard and one that is now on hiatus while frontman Eric Nally goes Downtown with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Everybody Wants... was originally released in 2014 but has been subsequently re-released due to the bands success and subsequent move to the USA, now stupidly I missed the record the first time round but luckily I haven't this time and quite frankly The Struts have released one of the albums of 2016 (2014?), moving from snotty punk, through stomping glam, to hip shaking R&B and all delivered with the dramatic polish of Queen, the Queen influence is also what attracted me to Could Have Been Me as it has the same kind arena shaking chorus as We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions that means it will played at sports events for many years to come.
Away from that song the rest of the record is brimming with quality hard rock the opening salvo Roll Up is a vaudeville start to the record welcoming you to the madness that's about to unfold, rapidly things pick up with the filthy electronic backed Kiss This into the driving Put Your Money On Me which is Stones via Primal Scream with some parping brass. Luke Spiller's voice is sublime filled with snarling, English grit and a prone to give a dramatic performance on top of the swaggering rhythm section of Gethin Davies and Jed Elliot while Addo Slack's glitterbomb guitar lines fire off throughout. Mary Go Round is an acoustic break that brings to mind Oasis at their arena baiting best, The Ol' Switcheroo is a glamtastic ode to swinging, with boogie piano and yet more brass.
This album is bloody fantastic, I mean really truly fantastic, it's full of area size songs that runs through so many types of rock music that everyone listening will find at least one song they will like on this record. Much like Permission To Land back in 2003 Everybody Wants... is a rock revolution giving it the shot in the arm that it sometimes so desperately needs, both effortlessly classic and thoroughly modern, this is guaranteed to be on my top 10 for 2016. 10/10
The Record Company: Give It Back To You (Concord/Universal)
I witnessed The Record Company for the first time supporting Blackberry Smoke in London's Kentish Town Forum and honestly had it been any other band they would have blown them out of the water, brimming with bluesy songwriting and delivering it all with a uncontrollable fire that seemed to possess the band especially frontman Chris Vos who is like a whirling dervish when on stage. The Record Company are a three piece from Los Angeles California and Give It Back To You is their debut album, what is immediately evident from the outset is that the record is a bit more laid back than their live show, it never really captures the bands live fury, with tracks like the countrified Don't Let Me Get Lonely, the slide driven Rita Mae Young, The Record Company have a sound not to dissimilar to The Black Keys although theirs is a little more rootsy.
Marc Cazorla's drumming is the bedrock of the bands sound, he can shuffle, he can add jazz flair and he can pound away like Bonzo letting everything else try to keep up, he can also play a mean piano which is used to expand the sound. Alex Stiff's bass drives the funk on On The Move which owes a nod to Sweet Emotion, he also switches between his low end and guitar allowing Vos to take electrics, slide, acoustic guitars and harmonica as well as vocals meaning that it's just the three men on the record providing the organic live-in-the studio feel. I've said it's not really a match for the bands live power but Hard Day Coming Down builds into a frenzy, while Feels So Good is a thigh slapping bluster. You can hear the talent on this record and it gives you an inkling of their live power and shows that their songwriting is very good indeed, if you like rootsy blues based music with a bit of rock thrown in for good measure then The Record Company will be to your liking, but if you get the chance to see them live take it as this is where they really shine! 7/10
Toseland: Cradle The Rage (52 Music)
Former Superbike World Champion returns with his second full length album, once again Toby Jepson provides the production with the legendary Mike Fraser taking the mixing duties, however with these two on board it does little to pick this album from just being ok. Toseland's debut was a middle of the road modern rock affair channeling Nickelback, Shinedown and getting a lot of airplay on Planet Rock and very little variation has happened on this second record. Yes he is still all over Planet Rock, he recently has done a UK tour (reviewed by Paul) but this record never really seems to come out of cruise, Puppet On A Chain is probably the album's best bit, it has some flair from Toseland's four person backing band but most of the album is just a bit samey. Much of this unfortunately due to Toseland's voice, yes he has a a unique style but over the course of a whole album it can get a bit annoying, there just isn't much variation in his delivery meaning that all the songs sort of blend into one another with only the ballads like Fingers Burned which stand out just because they are over-wrought and little sickly. When the band rocks out they can sound pretty good but it is Toseland himself that brings things down as soon as his vocals kick in that's all you can hear. Still in a field with some lubrication for about 20 minutes he should be pretty good but on record stick to one or two tracks. 5/10